ByteDance refutes FT reports claiming its selling of AI technology

Photo taken on Aug. 21, 2020 shows a logo of the video-sharing social networking company TikTok’s Los Angeles Office in Culver City, Los Angeles County, the United States.  (Xinhua)

ByteDance, the Chinese owner of popular video sharing platform TikTok, refuted media report claiming it will sell TikTok’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology to other companies.

“BytePlus is a SAAS provider, and accordingly we offer clients our services. We neither provide, nor sell, any technology from TikTok or any other client,” ByteDance said in a statement on Monday.

The comment followed a Financial Times (FT) report on Sunday, saying that ByteDance is selling some of the AI technology that powers TikTok to websites and apps outside China, as it broadens its revenue streams ahead of a long-anticipated IPO.

As a new division, BytePlus was quietly launched in June, the FT report said. According to its official website, it has already listed customers all over the world, including in the US, such as the US-based fashion app Goat. TikTok is among its clients.

TikTok and its Chinese sister app Douyin boast of its edge-cutting algorithm technology, which keeps users scrolling by recommending videos that machine thinks they would like. 

In August last year, China launched new rules around tech exports, a move of which was widely interpreted blocking ByteDance’s sale of TikTok’s US operations to the US, since such deal would need Beijing’s approval.

The Chinese start-up was ordered by former US President Donald Trump to sell TikTok in the US amid security concerns over the personal data it handles.

Responding to the new regulation over restrictions on export of certain technologies including AI and computing technologies, ByteDance said that it will “strictly follow” the new rules in “handling operations related to export of technologies.” 

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